Just doing our job, say ambulance drivers who drove from Chennai to Aizawl to take body to family

The ambulance that travelled over 3,000 km   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“It is 3,345 km between Chennai and Aizwal,” say ambulance drivers S. Chinnathambi and P. Jayendran. While the entire country is under a lockdown, these two drivers from Chennai, along with a friend of the deceased, accompanied the body of Vivian to his hometown in Aizawl on a journey that spanned over four days.

With no flights operating and Vivian’s sudden death, his family back in Aizwal were in a fix as to how they could transport the body across the country.


“We heard that there were ambulance drivers from a private service ready to take the body but they were insistent that someone from Vivian’s family or community accompany them. Raphael Malchhanhima, a friend of Vivian’s, immediately stepped in and said he would travel with the ambulance,” said S. Lalvena, Commissioner, Department of Social Defence who is also the president of the Chennai Mizo Welfare Association.

The Tamil Nadu government and the police department helped the association facilitate the journey by arranging for the required permissions for travel. On April 24 night, the ambulance began the journey to Aizwal.

For Raphael, the sudden death of his best friend and classmate through their hotel management course had been a great shock. “When I heard that someone needed to accompany his body back to his family, I decided to go along despite concerns raised about travelling during the lockdown. This was the least I could do for my friend and his family,” he said.

During the journey, the ambulance drivers Jayendran and Chinnathambi took turns in driving. The Mizo association had reached out to friends and relatives on the way who helped them with food and other necessities.

With the entire country under a lockdown, there weren't small shops or eateries that they were able to find on the way. “We didn’t stop anywhere for too long and just kept driving. In some places, the residents were very helpful and gave us packed food packets which we took with us and ate on the way,” said Jayendran.

When the ambulance finally reached Aizwal on Tuesday evening after four days of travel, many residents, relatives and friends there came forward to express their gratitude to the three of them.

“The long journey wouldn’t have been possible if the ambulance drivers and Raphael did not volunteer to go. It is admirable that they came forward and offered to take Vivian’s body back home at a time when there are several concerns going around,” Mr Lalvena added.

For Jayendran and Chinnathambi -- they said they were just doing their job. “We have already started our journey back to Chennai,” they said, on Wednesday morning.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 10:47:39 AM |

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